New Delhi: A high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on Thursday for the second time to decide the fate of CBI director Alok Verma, reinstated by a Supreme Court order after he was sent on forced leave by the government, officials said.
The other members of the committee included Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, who was nominated by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to represent him. The panel’s meet held Wednesday remained inconclusive, they said, without giving further details. The CBI chief and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on the forced leave over two months ago to stop the “kilkenny cat fight” between them. They had accused each other of corruption.
Verma, who resumed office on Wednesday, had revoked most of the transfers done by M Nageshwar Rao, who was appointed as the interim CBI chief in his absence. Ahead of the meeting, Kharge said he has sought documents, including enquiry report by the Central Vigilance Commission into the matter.
“I have asked for certain documents from the government concerning the matter including the CVC’s enquiry reports,” he told reporters here on Thursday. He said that Verma should also be given an opportunity to appear before the committee and represent his case.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also attacked the government ahead of the crucial meeting and said Modi is in a “tearing hurry” to “sack” CBI chief Alok Verma because of the Rafale deal.
“1. Why is the PM in such a tearing hurry to sack the CBI Chief?
“2. Why will he not allow the CBI Chief to present his case in front of the selection committee ? Answer: RAFALE,” Gandhi said on Twitter.
The top court had asked the government to convene the meeting within a week of its order. It had quashed the government’s unprecedented “overnight” order issued in October last year, stripping Verma of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy traded corruption charges, sparking a bitter feud. The court, while reinstating Verma, however, made it clear that he will desist from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of “divestment of power and authority”.
Verma had challenged his ouster from the CBI in the apex court. Asthana has also approached the Delhi High Court for quashing of an FIR registered by the CBI, reportedly at the instance of Verma, in an alleged corruption case. A decision in this regard is pending in the high court. Verma’s two-year fixed tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.